Method and apparatus for tagging network traffic using extensible fields in message headers

  • US 8,862,747 B2
  • Filed: 03/10/2008
  • Issued: 10/14/2014
  • Est. Priority Date: 03/10/2007
  • Status: Active Grant
First Claim
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1. A method of processing data sent from a user of a client computer over a network, comprising:

  • intercepting a request that is in a hypertext transport protocol (HTTP) format from the client computer to a server computer over the network at a routing device within the network and coupled between the client and server computers, and prior to receipt by the server computer, wherein the network is the World Wide Web portion of the Internet, and further wherein the client computer is selected from the group consisting of;

    a personal computer, a mobile computing device, a cellular phone, a personal digital assistant, a media playback device, and a gaming device;

    extracting non-personal information about the user during a Media Access Control (MAC) layer process, wherein the non-personal information includes one or more of data related to the client computer, software on the client computer, information stored on the client computer regarding use of the client computer, and non-personal data associated with the user;

    creating a unique device identifier associated with hardware and corresponding to the client computer from the non-personal information, wherein the unique identifier is based directly on at least one of a MAC address, port identifier, or hardcoded identifier embodied in software or hardware and assigned to the client computer;

    generating a local user identifier for the client computer by performing a one-way hashing operation on the unique device identifier;

    deriving instance information based on request timing information provided by the client computer, and geographic location and demographic information for the client computer from information provided by a remote authentication server on the network;

    generating a request identifier associated with the intercepted request by combining and encrypting, in a tag process executed on the routing device, the local user identifier, instance information, and geographic location and demographic information in an alphanumeric string;

    embedding the alphanumeric string in an extensible field of a packet within the request to generate a tagged request, wherein the extensible field comprises a portion of an HTTP header field of the packet that is normally unused or essentially left blank;

    transmitting the tagged request to the server computer;

    providing appropriate decoding tools to the server computer to perform a decoding operation on the tagged request to decode the request identifier embedded in the HTTP extensible field; and

    receiving a request to decode the tagged request from the server computer.

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